The Marriage Journey by Trish

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe it has been almost one year since saying, “I Do.”  People always say that the years go by so quickly and I can attest to how true this statement is. It seems like just yesterday we were planning the day, crafting all of the DIY projects, selecting cupcake flavors and counting down the days to June 25th.

It’s amazing how so much time can be spent planning one day when the reality is, the majority of the effort and energy deserves to be spent on planning the marriage itself.

Needless to say, being married to my true best friend has been one of the greatest gifts I could have ever been given yet this new season has pushed me to grow in more ways than I ever thought possible. Transition alone is challenging, but when combined with the loss of a loved one, it can intensify the process of change and the emotions that come with it. However, in the midst of change, loss and dealing with grief, while also celebrating a new season of life, I can say that God’s timing is so perfect.  He knew what and whom I needed at such a pivotal time in my life.

Looking back at the past 12 months I wanted to highlight some of the lessons I’ve learned that have meant the most to me. If you’re married I encourage you to do the same, list all of the ways your spouse has been a blessing to your life and how you’ve grown because of them. If you’re single and desire to be married, I hope there is something highlighted in the words penned that will encourage you, as you believe in faith for your spouse!

1)     It’s not about me

Prior to getting married I read so many books on the preparation process and countless articles on being the Proverbs 31 woman and so on. While I HIGHLY encourage pre-marital council and resources, the truth of the matter is, the crash course of learning will only come when you are united as one. I thought I could just enter into marriage and “suddenly” we would become one.  Ha-ha! Not exactly the case. Becoming one is a process of combining the best and worst of you are, all of it! All the while you have to trust God to shape you into what He desires for your new life as a couple.

This gal right here was 37 years old when she got married and had a lot of UN-learning to do and I still yet more to do. Having been single for so long I developed a pattern of life that worked for me but marriage involves two and there is no room for selfishness in marriage. The balance to this is to prefer one another while not losing yourself in the process. Being married doesn’t mean you lose your voice, but rather you have another one to blend with. A duet is beautiful when both parties know their notes and combine them in harmony.

2)     God First Now and Always

At the very core of your marriage and your home should be Jesus. At our ceremony we played “Jesus At The Center of It All” during Communion and that really was the desire of my heart for our marriage. Whenever there is an absence of peace in our home I can always trace it back to an area where we’ve not made Jesus the priority in our decision-making. As for me, it’s usually when I respond in a selfish way and have chosen to not pray about it first. There’s a saying that states anything without a head would be considered a monster. If Jesus is not the head of the household, it makes for a scary scenario within the home.

3)     Our Lives Are To Be An Example

This life is not about perfection but as believers it does require us to do our best to set an example. God’s first establishment on the earth was a marriage and then a family. The marriage covenant is to be a reflection of Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. Our lives should indicate who and what we live for. The most important set of eyes watching besides God is a precious young lady within our home who I have the honor of calling daughter. The weight of being an example to and for her is heavy. It is our responsibility to her to show God’s love demonstrated in our home. Is it always on target? No. But I ask God for wisdom in the areas where I’m still learning and grace to make up the difference where I or we have fallen short.

4)     Friendship First

Before I got married and believed God for my spouse, my sister told me, “Marry your friend. There will be times in your marriage that you will be angry at your spouse but you’ll be able to work through it because he is your true friend.” I’ve never forgotten those words. Sometimes I look at Marc and in my heart, I whisper, “God, thank you for my friend.” I choke up when I think about this because the Bible tells us that a friend loves at ALL times. My husband has seen the best of me and over the course of these 12 months at such a tender time in my life he’s seen the very worst of me and loved me just the same.

The existence of my love for Marc grew from a seed of such pure friendship and from the overflow of that seed I now have a marriage I’m so grateful for.

5)     Letting Go Of “How It Should Be”

When entering the first year of marriage there is often an expectation of how it should go and what it should look like. What I expected looked nothing like what I was experiencing. During the holidays when you’re supposed to be your happiest planning the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, the first New Year’s I was dealing with grief and doing my best to just keep a smile on my face and not burst into tears at any given moment.

I was bombarded by people with the sweetest of intentions asking if I was excited for my “first” of anything holiday related even through Valentine’s Day as a newlywed. I would politely smile but cry on the inside and then honestly I resented the fact that I didn’t feel that excitement like I had expected I would. The answer was no, I was not excited I was hurting. It’s okay to say that.  It doesn’t make me less of a Christian it simply shows my need of God’s healing power and His loving care in all seasons of life.

Letting go of how I thought things should be or expectations allowed me to see God’s faithfulness to me and repositioned my focus on all He has provided. I remembered the beauty of Mom’s transition, the souls she pointed to Christ, the fact I was able to be with her and the peace she had! I remembered how God granted her the ability to be present for my wedding and she witnessed one of her prayers fulfilled. I remembered that I wasn’t alone…God gave me a partner to share this season with.

I realized the fairytale of marriage doesn’t come in a box that you unwrap the minute you say, “I do.” This so called “fairytale,” which I like to refer to as a testimony rather, is the journey you create along the way by allowing God to write your story.

Letting go of what “should be” gave God the room necessary for His will to be accomplished.

6)     Keep It Simple

The greatest of joys in our marriage are moments we steal from the schedule to go get coffee or watch “This Is Us.” There are times that should include special celebrations and date nights but keeping it simple has afforded us the opportunity to focus on what’s really important, each other. One night my husband randomly asked me if I wanted to get coffee.  My reply is always a yes when it pertains to coffee. As we drove around in his truck drinking coffee we saw fireworks on the way home and he joked saying this was his plan all along, that the firework show was planned just for us on the way home. I’m pretty sure Disney didn’t plan their firework show around our impromptu date but I’ll let him have the points and take the credit. This may have been one of my best moments as a wife. Nothing fancy, just coffee, a truck and us (oh yeah… and the fireworks he planned).

There are more lessons to be learned and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunity to share. There was a time I prayed for what I have today. God is faithful in all walks of life and answered prayers never eliminate the need for Him, it just brings about new areas for us to stretch our faith for and allow His faithfulness to shine!

PS- Happy 1st Anniversary, Mr. Williams- I’m honored to be your Mrs.

Photo Credit: Omar Galarza June 2016

Keeping Your Daughter Innocent by Sonya

 

As I am raising three daughters, I am learning a lot about keeping their innocence. Especially my oldest daughter, I have realized our parenting needs to be so intentional as my husband and I are training her up where she should go! This verse has been essential to us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6.  I truly believe if you are training your children in God’s word, and rooting them in His truth, that they will not depart from it. I am experiencing this firsthand as my daughter is in middle school and has lots of pressures of looking and acting a certain way. She comes home and tells me what things go on and what things are not appropriate and I try not to have the shock look but just listen. Because the more we just listen the more they share. My daughter sharing with me is allowing her to discern right from wrong and what God says and what the world wants you to believe. This is so powerful if your daughters can understand who they are in Christ and realize the importance of that.

Keeping your daughter innocent by speaking the truth does make a difference. The relationship with your daughter or children doesn’t come over night but takes constant effort and communication to work towards having that solid connection. This relationship of open communication and trust has been key in keeping her innocent because she hears first our opinion and not what her friends think on certain issues. Another essential part is being involved in their lives and helping out at school or their activities. I am thankful my daughter lets me chaperone her socials because I get to see her friendships and what her classmates are like. Being involved shows your daughters that they are valued and taking the time for them shows so much love and support. Also letting them be who God has designed them to be is very important in keeping them innocent and not trying to push your agenda or grow them up faster than they are ready for. My daughter loves ballet and dance and music and I never took dance so it took some time to get used to the fact that she didn’t want to do sports. I was an athlete in school and wanted her to experience that, but she doesn’t like sports so I had to hold back and allow God to develop her in the way she was made for.

Keeping that little girl in your daughter is about allowing her to just be in love with the simple things. My daughter still loves to play Barbies and babies and she is almost twelve years old.  Also she still wears bows in her hair to school almost every day just because she loves to dress up. As a parent embracing her little girl side and encouraging it is the best way to keep that innocence. So tell your daughters out there to “Rock that bow and keep the little girl side!”  Remind your daughters they are made in His image and, “They are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago,” Ephesians 2:10. God has big plans for your daughters and helping to keep your daughters innocence is a big part of that!

 

Photo Credit:<a href=’http///www.freepik.com/free-photo/mother-hugging-family-lifestyle-mommy_1057014.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>

 

Preparing For Love by Trish

Preparing for Love…What I’ve learned in My Season of Waiting

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Recently I was asked to be a part of a panel discussion on the topic, “Preparing for Love.” As I thought about what to share, I jotted down some of the key lessons God has taught me in this season of waiting.

For those who don’t know me, I made a decision at the age of fifteen to not date anyone other than my husband and to trust God for His best for my life. Within the last year, at the age of 35, my heart was captured and I officially became a girl in a relationship, a woman in love. The journey leading to this step of courtship included a 2-year pursuit of my heart. While this journey is penned from my perspective, it’s still only 50% complete as this reMARCable (incorrect spelling totally intentional…smile) journey includes the heart of an amazing man who too has a story of his own that led him to me. I also want to make it known that I’m not against dating at all! This was just my story and the decision to not date was what I felt was God’s plan for my life.

I’m continuing to learn and to grow as I walk out this season of intentional courtship. While I’m not married and not even engaged, I can honestly say that there is no one I would rather share this season with and although love is always a risk, this particular man was and still is more than worth it.

 

Lessons Learned

  • God Does not Tease

God does not dangle a promise or a desire in front of us to see how high we’ll jump. The desires of our heart are to be covered in prayer and believed for in faith. If it has not happed yet, DO NOT GIVE UP. Trust God that His timing is perfect!

  • God Can be Trusted

God created you so He knows you better than you what is best for your life. Trust that your heart is His priority and DO NOT compare your journey to someone else’s. While there are principles to be applied found in God’s Word for preparation, there is no “formula” to making love appear. “Trust in the Lord with all of heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

  • Become a Wife as a Single

The Bible tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” This tells me there are attributes I must obtain now before saying, “I do.” This does not mean fulfilling “wifely” duties in its entirety, but conditioning my thoughts and behaviors as a married woman would. Govern your walk, talk and interactions as though you’re a wife already. This applies to spiritual matters (praying for your husband) and practical matters (physical preparation). Remember Esther prepared herself as queen long before the crown was placed on her head.

  • Guard your heart, but learn how to let the guards down when it’s time

I was taught how to guard my heart but was never instructed on how to let my guards down appropriately when the time had come.

While I believe we should not let our guard down entirely until we are married, I do believe there is a healthy way to let someone in at the right time. You just have to wait for the person you deem worthy of the risk.

Suggestion of someone worthy to see and know your heart: 1 Corinthians 13. If you meet a man who lives this chapter, you’re in good company for someone who truly understands what love is.

  • Maximize Your Single Season

If you’re not yet in a relationship, be intentional with your time and maximize the season you’ve been given. It often frustrates me when people say, “single people have so much time.” That is not the case. We are all given the same amount of time, 24 hours per day. However, our time is more flexible. With that in mind, create a bucket list of what you’d like to achieve while you have more flexibility with your time and finances.

I have a dear friend who once told me that, “waiting is not wasting time when you’re waiting on God!” Ladies, continue to trust God and know that He is faithful and He longs to satisfy the desires of your heart. Let your waiting season be one of the most exciting times of your life as you see God unfold His plan for your life and give you the love worth waiting for!

 

Photo Credit:ID 39237741 © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Let’s Talk About Love by Sonya

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“Above all love each other deeply.” 1 Peter 4:8

LOVE is an important four-letter word in marriage. Love is not just a word you say to your spouse to show them you love them. Saying, “I love you,” is important but it is much more than that. It is the action behind LOVE and showing your spouse that you truly love them by the way you treat them.

Being married for almost thirteen years has not by any means made me an expert in this area, but I am still learning how to love my husband and figure out what makes his love tank full. LOVE is that four-letter word that can be easily thrown around, but as I am learning it is the little things you do that go straight to the heart and make your spouse feel loved all over. Words are important but don’t need to be said all the time, they can also be written out. For instance, something as simple as sending your spouse a text to show them you were thinking about them in that moment can brighten their day. I know for me when my husband appreciates my cooking and the cleaning I have done that day, and has our kids express appreciation as well, shows me love in huge ways. Sweet notes are so thoughtful and homemade cards, which I know that can be a thing of the past with all the technology we have today, could mean the world to your spouse. I have kept my notes and cards from my husband and read them every once in awhile and when I do, I feel so loved and appreciated from the words he wrote.

Also small gifts are a way to show love to your spouse and can be very inexpensive. The gifts can be as simple as a favorite drink or snack. My husband loves brie cheese and these special crackers that go with it, so I brought those home for him to have one night and he loved it! The fact that I thought of him and took the time to get those for him. You can make fun by hiding their favorite candy and have your spouse be surprised when they find it.

There can be giving the gift of your time and spending it with your spouse by watching their favorite show or movie or going on a walk. Spending time doesn’t have to mean you have to take them out on an expensive date, but just taking the time to be with them makes that spouse feel so important and valued. Dating your mate is an ongoing process, and spending that time is key to a healthy marriage. God wants us to put our spouse first before our family, friends, work, and hobbies. Don’t complicate things and mix it around because you’ll end up with a spouse that is feeling unloved.

 

A big way for some women, especially for me, is when my husband is doing things around the house like cleaning or vacuuming without being asked. I truly feel loved by that and the fact that I didn’t have to ask him. Those “acts of slavery,” as my husband calls it, are yelling out, “I Love You!” and it means the world to me and to many women who have small children and don’t have all the time in the world to do everything in their home.

Those small acts of love speak volumes to our spouses and to our marriages. Loving our spouse is an expression of God’s love. Once we understand God’s love for us, we can then love others the way He does. 1 John 4:12 states it well, “If we love each other, God lives in us, and His love has been brought to full expression through us.” Take the time to love your spouse the way God loves your spouse and then you can start saying, “Let’s Talk about Love.”

 

Photo Credit:© Rocketclips | Dreamstime.com – Black Girlfriend Enjoying Being Serenaded To By Boyfriend Photo